That title is rather direct, yes? I better have a decent source to back it up, and I do. A recent study has found that forward head posture is a source of your neck pain if you struggle with chronic neck pain as an adult. Some of these studies are very specific in their conclusion’s and I believe it is important to discuss the studies in their specific terms. In this study the authors choose their words carefully as researchers should, forward head posture is associated with neck pain in adults is their findings.
We have seen this in multiple studies on posture and spinal structure, some association with pain and/or function. I have discussed some of theses studies in the past. Each study is important, though, because each time someone publishes another study confirming previous observations the association is strengthened. One paper showing an association between neck pain and forward head posture is not definitive but once multiple studies show similar conclusions the association becomes stronger.
This study is a review of previous studies on the head posture and pain. No new data was generated for this study, instead the authors examined 15 previous studies. Of those studies ten compared patients with neck pain to patients without neck pain and found a significant association between forward head posture and neck pain. Eight studies showed a significant association between head posture and pain intensity and disability in adults and older adults. For adolescences these authors found that visiting a doctor for neck pain was a predictor for forward head posture but not an association with neck pain and head posture for this age group.
If you have an understanding of simple physics it is easy to understand how forward head posture can contribute to neck pain. Hold a 9 pound bowling back against your chest, now extend your arms to hold the ball way out in front of your chest. The ball will weigh 9 pounds no matter where it sits in space but it takes far less effort to hold the ball near your chest than way out in front of your chest. This is the same thing for your head over your torso. When the center of mass of your head rests over the center of your torso the muscles don’t have to work as hard to hold up your head as they do when your head shifts forward. Additionally the joints of your spine suffer an increase in loading as your head shifts forward. Just as interesting studies have found that forward head posture of two inches will increase the loading on the lumbar spine by around 30 pounds. Even if forward head posture doesn’t cause any symptoms today if you are walking around with 2 inches of forward head posture eventually it will.
This study helps to connect the impact forward head posture has on pain and function. It is important to watch your posture and identify points in your daily life that may be contributing to developing forward head posture. Forward head posture occurs much like tight hamstrings occur, a chronic posture for a long enough time to cause shortening of muscles and ligaments. Accidents and injuries can to alter the structure of the spine contributing to it but the most common thing today is a chronic posture. So spending hours on your phone a week, looking down. Or sitting at a laptop leaning forward and looking down for hours a day. To name just a couple of really common postures. Think about your children doing their homework on a Chromebook for hours a night, in their case instead of a normal posture becoming abnormal their posture is developing as their bodies grow and develop. Just about every child we examine, with or without neck pain, has some amount of forward head posture outside of would would be an acceptable range.
Get your posture checked. Talk to an expert on posture and spinal structure on what you should be doing to better your posture and reduce your likelihood of developing forward head posture. If you have neck pain, see a chiropractor who will examine your posture and spinal structure completely then can correct poor posture or structure if it is found. If you live/work in Geneva, IL. see us for an evaluation if not check out https://idealspine.com/cbp-patient for a chiropractor near you.